Re: Fed up customer - Unreliable Vehicle
Further to our meeting of yesterday morning I would like to place my unhappiness on written
My wifes vehicle is a 2000 Range Rover 4.6 HSE Automatic. In the past four months this vehicle has had far too many technical problems
that have kept it out of service. I would not expect to experience these repeated problems
from any mid-range vehicle let alone a top of the range product. I am extremely concerned
about the poor reliability of this vehicle.
In early November 2002, on my return journey from Botswana the vehicle made a terrible
whining noise from the front axle as soon as I exceeded 80 km/h. On my return it was
diagnosed as a faulty front diff. Due to unavailability of parts the vehicle was unavailable for
ten days. I was only offered a rental vehicle after I made a lot of fuss.
Shortly thereafter the vehicle was in again for a day or two to have a faulty alternator
In early December (only two weeks after this second incident) the vehicle was towed in to
Waterford after it overheated in Bryanston on my way home from work. The thermostat was
Shortly before Christmas the vehicle was towed in to Waterford for a second time after it
overheated again on my way home from Christmas shopping on a Saturday afternoon. The
vehicle was in your workshop for four days but the service department was unable to locate a
problem with overheating and so it was released to me with the assurance that there was no
problem. (During the time that the vehicle was in on this occasion the vehicle was given its
40 000 km service)
On 4 January 2003 the vehicle again broke down with the exact same overheating problem.
This time we were stuck 10km outside Pongola in northern KZN, without an air conditioner
and an outside shade temperature of 32 degrees Centigrade.
The service that we received from Land Rover Assist / Land Rover Customer Services / Avis
Car Rental, in their pleasantly cooled offices, was appalling. Their first offer was to fetch us
and the broken vehicle and tow us on a flat bed truck back to the nearest dealership in
Empangeni some 400 km in the wrong direction! They wanted us to wait for the vehicle to
be repaired and then drive home! One hour later, after explaining that this was unacceptable
and that I wanted a rental vehicle to get home, Avis Richards Bay was about to dispatch a
rental vehicle for delivery to us on the back of a flat bed truck because they had no driver!
Again after explaining to them that this was 400 km away and I would be lucky to see this
rental vehicle the same day, they said that they would send a vehicle from Manzini in
Swaziland. Finally, some three hours after making our first phone call for help they still had
not dispatched a rental vehicle for us to make our way home and I got a call from someone at
Avis in Swaziland asking me (stuck on the side of the road in Pongola) to fax him directions
of how to get from Swaziland to Pongola because he did not have a map!
That was the final straw and I organized for somebody from Johannesburg to come and fetch
us in Pongola. I eventually paid a local farmer R400 to take us from Pongola to Piet Retief in
order to reduce the time. If we had waited for Land Rover Assist / Land Rover Customer
Services / Avis Car Rental to sort out the problem and had not organized ourselves, I am
convinced that we would still be in Pongola!
The vehicle is now at Land Rover in Empangeni and we are without a vehicle again. I do not
know when to expect it back in Johannesburg.
This Range Rover was bought because it was supposed to be a safe and reliable vehicle for
my wife and the children. Having been stuck on the side of the road three times in the last
two months (thankfully each time without a security incident) and having had the other
problems described above, I have lost all faith in this vehicle and no longer wish to subject
my wife to the safety hazards or inconveniences of this nature in the future. I do not want this
vehicle any more as it is quite clearly a faulty product.
I might add that despite the fact that my wife again does not have use of the vehicle because
of your product unreliability, we are left to pay the R8300 monthly finance installments. This
on top of the fact that we have just paid R4500 for a service really infuriates me.
Having had some time to consider the three options below put to us yesterday morning, I
consider all three to be wholly unsuitable and embarrassing that you would even consider
these as acceptable, as we as the injured party are left baring the brunt of the inconvenience
and costs again. Although I appreciate the fact that you said that you are on our side and want
to help, I trust that on further consideration you will realise that we have been offered nothing
Option 1: Land Rover SA assisted trade in / swap vehicle.
Conceptually this is all good and well, but nothing concrete has been offered to us, which
makes it an impossible option for us to consider. One thing is however certain; we are not
interested in incurring any further costs.
Option 2: Waterford to sell vehicle on a consignment basis and give us R370 000 out.
The long and the short of this offer is that you expect us to continue to pay monthly finance
costs while the vehicle sits on your floor while you try to sell it without any guarantees
regarding price or maximum time to sell. This as you quite clearly stated could go on for 300
days as you have had Range Rovers in stock for this period in the past. Given our finance and
insurance costs of approximately R9000 per month, 300 days equates to 10 months or some
R90 000 possible downside on my part. You cant honestly believe that this is a risk that
anyone with even the most miniscule business acumen would accept as reasonable, let alone
attractive. There is absolutely no financial incentive for you to sell the vehicle quickly. What
dealer would not jump at such a one sided opportunity? I think that it is safe to say that
Option 2 cannot even be considered as an offer.
Option 3: Waterford to buy the vehicle outright for R300 000.
I find this offer even more offensive than Option 2. First you sell us an unreliable vehicle
then after months of frustration you offer to buy it back for R55 000 less than our current
settlement figure. Furthermore, the current Auto Dealers Guide recommended trade price is
R31 000 more than your offer! Yet again, what dealer would not jump at such a one sided
opportunity, especially given the very low mileage and immaculate condition of the vehicle,
as recognized by yourselves when you stated that this vehicle is one of the better vehicles
serviced at Waterford. You guys could potentially end up making a substantial profit out of
our miserable experience.
I think that upon reflection you will easily see that in all the above options I am the one
drawing the considerably shorter straw and that these options are insensitive at best and
downright unethical at worst. In each case I am expected to throw more good money after
bad. In fact I fail to see where it is that yourselves or Land Rover South Africa are assisting
us at all.
The days of me drawing the short straw are now over. Please convey my extreme
unhappiness to Land Rover South Africa and ask them to assist in this matter.
I look forward to your urgent response and trust that this matter will be resolved ensuring that
I am finally left as a highly satisfied customer.
From my first letter to Land Rover SA dated 7 January, the chronology continues
The Range Rover was sent to Land Rover in Empangeni. In a meeting with Pieter
Steyn on Monday 6 January (at which they made the 3 pathetic verbal offers
described in the first letter) we were promised that the vehicle would be repaired at
Empangeni and returned without delay. We were told that we could expect it back by
Friday 10 January. Clearly Friday came and went and the vehicle was not delivered.
On Tuesday 14 January I telephoned the Land Rover SA head office in order to
to Moira Moses (then MD Land Rover SA). I was told that she was unavailable and so
I left a brief message explaining my unhappiness and asked to be called back. The call
was never returned. During the same week I spoke to the service manager at
Empangeni who told me that the vehicle had been repaired by replacing the head
gasket and that they were awaiting transport for the vehicle to Johannesburg. That
same week I was contacted by Natasha of Land Rover SA Customer Care to be given
an update. She asked me whether I was going to fetch my vehicle from Empangeni!
When I told her that it was their responsibility to get it back to me she assured me that
the vehicle would be transported back to Johannesburg by carrier and that the vehicle
would not be driven back. Friday 17 January came and went without the return of the
On Tuesday 21 January my wife Sarah received a call from someone at Waterford
saying we have just received a call from your driver Alfred telling us that your
Range Rover has broken down on route from Empangeni to Johannesburg. When
Sarah explained that she does not have a driver called Alfred and that the vehicle was
in fact in their care and that it was supposed to be being transported back on a flat bed
truck there was a stoney silence with the promise of a quick response. Minutes later
she received a call from Bruce (Service Manager at Waterford) to say that there had
been a mix up and that in fact it was the flat bed that had broken down and that the
vehicle had not been driven. This was a blatant lie. The vehicle had been driven and
had overheated again, completely destroying the engine. It was returned the rest of the
way to Johannesburg on a flat bed truck.
On either Thursday 23 January or Friday 24 January I again expressed my grave
concerns regarding the reliability of the vehicle at a meeting with Pieter Steyn and
insisted that we get the involvement of the most senior Land Rover SA officials or his
direct superiors at the Southern Motor Group. Pieter assured me that his boss would
be unable to do anything more than he himself was able to do and that Dewalt van
Bergen (Land Rover SA Customer Care Manager) was in fact the correct individual to
handle this matter. It was decided that the entire motor had to be replaced under
After explaining my security issues to Dewalt van Bergen as well as the fact
that I had
made enquiries about the salability of the vehicle with a new engine from other
dealers and that the vehicle was now worth even less to potential buyers (as a result of
the engine change) I received no acknowledgement of the financial loss that I was
expected to take from either Dewalt van Bergen (on behalf of LRSA) or Pieter Steyn
(on behalf of Waterford Land Rover)as a result of their faulty product. Land Rover
simply pointed to their warranty conditions that essentially state fix or replace and
said that they would replace the engine and extend the warranty on the motor for a
further year. Initially they wanted the extended warranty to be non-transferable! This
they described as their final management decision in their letter dated 31 January.
My final attempt to get some decent management attention drawn to this matter
the lawyers letter of 10 February, written to Paul Malhuish (new MD Land Rover
SA) by Derek Spiers of Routledge Modise. We have received no response to this
At my meeting with Pieter Steyn on Thursday 23 January, he assured me that
goodwill gesture, because he had been unable to give me what I had asked for, he
would ensure that the new engine was fitted perfectly and gave me his personal
undertaking that he would get his best technician to give the vehicle a thorough
check to ensure that everything was a hundred percent prior to delivering the vehicle
back to me. It was returned to my house in Bryanston on Thursday 13 February.
Despite the fact that I had given possession of my vehicle to an LRSA agent with a
full tank of petrol on 3 January (having filled the vehicle in Pongola) it was returned
to me with the reserve light already on. Clearly no thought or management time had
been spent on ensuring that the vehicle was returned in a satisfactory condition.
On Sunday afternoon 16 January at about 16h00 on my way home from cricket with
my three year old daughter, wife and aunt in the car we were called upon to give
assistance to my female cousin who had suffered a blow out on the N1 south on the
way to Potchefstroom. We duly proceeded to the scene only to find out that she was
stuck on the N1 south under the Randshow Rd Bridge directly outside the entrance to
SOWETO. Having organized assistance from the AA for my cousin we wanted to
depart only to find that the Range Rover, that had allegedly been repaired and
returned to us not even three days ago would not start. The dashboard display stated
gearbox failure as the problem. We had to call Land Rover assist to have the vehicle
towed away again. During the time that we were stopped at this location prior to Land
Rover agents arriving we had two very nervous tow truck agents and a police officer
stop to inform us that this was a very dangerous location and that we should move
away from it as soon as possible. None of the three wanted to remain on the scene but
I eventually convinced the police officer to remain with us until help arrived. I am
well aware of this fact having had a brick thrown through the windscreen of my
vehicle at this very intersection some time ago. Unfortunately we were unable to
move away as the unreliable vehicle had let us down again.
I telephoned Paul Malhuish on his cellular phone on Sunday 16 January while
scene to voice my displeasure. I left a message on his answer machine for him to
return my call. I have received no response.
Apart from the substantial cost implications to myself and the irritations
of not having
a vehicle at my disposal, I have now been stuck on the side of the road in this vehicle
four times in the last three months. This is an unacceptable security risk to my family
and myself. Will Waterford Land Rover and LRSA step up and take responsibility for
their faulty product and service only after a member of my family has been raped or
some other terrible security hazard as befallen us? I am not prepared to allow my
family to be the victim of their faulty product. Should these parties not satisfactorily
compensate me for these hazards and material damages that I have suffered I will be
taking public action against them in the South African media. It is high time that the
parties stopped shirking their responsibilities towards unsuspecting consumers that
have shown a tremendous amount of patience.